Who is Jesus of Nazareth? Some say Jesus was a purely historical figure, a moral and ethical teacher par excellence, but only a man. Others believe Jesus is Michael the Archangel in flesh and blood. Still others believe He was a notable prophet with a few predecessors and one superior successor. One of Jesus’s closest friends believed this about Him: “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God” (John 20:31). The apostle John wrote his gospel account to prove Jesus’s identity. In fact, the opening verse tells us precisely who Jesus is: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” As we find out in verses 14-17, the Word is Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the manifestation of the Word and chapter one reveals His nature.
The opening phrase, “In the beginning,” hearkens back to the first verse of Genesis. Beyond question, the Holy Spirit draws our attention back to Genesis thus testifying that Jesus existed before the foundation of the physical realm. From the beginning the Word existed, or as one man translated John 1:1, “When the world had its beginning, the Word was already there.”
In John 8, the Jewish leadership pressed Jesus to proclaim His identity openly. After a lengthy exchange, Jesus ultimately declares, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” Jesus does not say “before Abraham was, I was.” The Greek implies Abraham came into existence, he came into being, he was born, and he had a temporal beginning. This is why several reliable versions such as the American Standard translate John 8:58, “before Abraham was born.” In contrast, Jesus proclaims, “I am,” which implies eternality, timelessness, or an absolute existence. Abraham had a beginning; Jesus, the Word, has no beginning.
Jesus is not only eternal He but also He is distinct from God the Father. The Holy Spirit says in John 1:1, “the Word was with God.” He reiterates this in verse 2:
HE was in the beginning with God. All things were made through HIM, and without HIM nothing was made that was made. In HIM was life and the life was the light of men. (emphasis added)
The Holy Spirit presents the true Word as a distinct personality who existed alongside the Father before the creation of the world.
Paul’s teaching in Philippians 2:6-7 emphasizes Jesus as a personality distinct from God:
Who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.
Jesus did not consider it robbery to be equal with the Father. In other words, He did not consider His equality with God the Father a prize that He clung to at all costs. On the contrary, He surrendered His equality – He relinquished His grasp – and “made Himself of no reputation.” He literally emptied Himself, like pouring the contents of a full pitcher out to the very last drop. He was with God the Father; He divested Himself of equality with God, and took on the form of a slave. These truths point toward a personality distinct from God the Father.
Jesus is eternal, He is distinct, and He is divine. The final thought stated in John 1:1 is “the Word was God.” One could easily read “the Word was with God” and question the divinity of Christ. However, the Holy Spirit leaves us no room to wonder when He says, “the Word was God.” Verse 3 confirms the deity of Jesus: “All things were made through Him; without Him nothing was made that was made.” God involved Jesus in creating all things. God made nothing without the Word including the Word Himself. If the Word is not divine, He must be created. God alone has no beginning; therefore, everything that is not divine is, by definition, created. If the Father made all things through the Word, this must mean the Word is divine. His involvement in every aspect of creation assures us of His divine nature. He is Creator. He is “God over all, forever praised! Amen” (Romans 9:5).
Jesus was no ordinary man. God sent a part of Himself to earth to teach, heal, and ultimately to die a sinner’s death. I encourage you to get to know this extraordinary man whose substance is divine. If you do know Him, get to know Him better. Learn more about His life, His commands, and His message. He alone has the words of life and in Him alone is life found. He is the Word, the Son of God, the Savior of the world.
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